At Least 77% of NFT Art Sales Going to Male Creators: Study

Gender disparities still run deep in crypto.

Nov 10, 2021 at 10:43 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 11, 2021 at 3:23 a.m. UTC

A recent study on the state of the non-fungible token (NFT) art market points to some of the lasting gender disparities in the world of cryptocurrency, and suggests the industry still has a long way to go.

The study, conducted by a research agency called Art Tactic and reported by Bloomberg, claims at least 77% of the money generated by NFT art sales over the past 21 months went to male artists, with just 5% going to female artists.

A caveat is that 16% of sales were chalked up to creators of “unknown” gender – hence the “at least.” Another caveat is that Bloomberg’s report on the study neglects to say how many NFT artists are women. Art Tactic arrived at these percentages by looking at total sales, but a look at the ratio of the amount of women to men in this space might provide a fuller picture of the inequities on display.

Regardless of whether the disparity is on the buyer side or the artist side, it’s a glaring one. The musician Grimes was the only woman on Art Tactic’s list of the top 10 best-selling NFT artists, thanks to a blockbuster sale on the Winklevoss-owned marketplace Nifty Gateway earlier this year.

None of this should come as much of a surprise – crypto has always been synonymous with a kind of toxically libertarian bro culture (though there are signs that’s beginning to change: in the more progressive corners of crypto, collectives such as Web 3 Baddies and aGENDAdao are starting to chip away at the archetype of the white male bitcoin bro.)

Beeple, today’s most expensive crypto artist, sold an NFT called “Everydays” for $69 million earlier this year. The work is a collage of 5,000 individual images, drawn over the course of the past 13 years, some of which feature racist and misogynistic themes.

The Art Tactic study also points to some of the broader wealth inequality issues in crypto.

Proponents of a crypto-backed creator economy have claimed that NFTs are a “grassroots” movement, with an eye toward bringing marginalized groups back into the fold. But according to Art Tactic, 55% of all the money generated by NFT art sales over the past 21 months went to just 16 artists.

DISCLOSURE

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Will Gottsegen is CoinDesk's media and culture reporter. He holds less than $300 in ETH, and two NFTs above CoinDesk's disclosure threshold of $1000, which you can find at smush.eth.